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Anyone ever bought a stolen bike?

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Anyone ever bought a stolen bike?

Old 01-27-23, 09:46 AM
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Anyone ever bought a stolen bike?

Well, I just did. Picked up a Surly Cross Check from a nice older gentleman the other day. I really wanted it for a rider but it ended up being too big. I brought it home with the intentions of cleaning it up and flipping it. I tore it completely down and scrubbing it clean. New frame decals, cables and bar tape. Listed it for sale and an hour later I received a message claiming it was his stolen bike. He described it to a T including parts that I took off and didnít show in pics. Heís picking it up today and reimbursing me with my end. Iím pretty happy heís getting it back.

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Old 01-27-23, 09:49 AM
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As crummy stories go, that one ended very well for everyone.
(And no, I don't think I've ever bought a stolen bike.)
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Old 01-27-23, 10:05 AM
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The co-op where I volunteer gets asked just about every day whether we buy or swap bikes. No we do not, precisely because we would immediately become the bike-laundering center of Phoenix. All of our bikes are donated, which seems like the only moderately effective way to avoid handling stolen bikes. I have tried checking databases on higher value bikes, but that does not work because hardly any bikes are registered.

But I've often thought, when looking at a 40 year old bike that has changed hands several times - seems like the odds are high that any given bike got stolen from somebody at some point.
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Old 01-27-23, 10:11 AM
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stolen -returned.

bought a downhill mtb at a fair price.a year later when advertised forsale a local claimed it was his but did not record the serial# so the local police could not help. he described all components so I returned it no charge.have had one stolen personally & know the feeling. $350. was lost but he was riding again.good to hear you were out nothing but your time.
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Old 01-27-23, 10:17 AM
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Yep, twice.
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Old 01-27-23, 10:35 AM
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Bought a stolen bike once, my own. Recognized it immediately. Stolen over 10 years ago and appeared on FB Marketplace last summer, stripped to frame 'cept for BB because, you know, effort. Seller had all the original components that I bought those back too, well, the Look 296 pedals replaced with godawful Origin8 rat traps and the Record headset replaced with garbage.
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Old 01-27-23, 12:16 PM
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Once that I knew of, got it home and checked the serial because I typically do. Turns out it was stolen the day before from a hospital in Seattle. The owner was a nice doctor who reimbursed me purchase price and gave me a nice bottle of wine after I drove it up to her.
Another time I bought a bare Rodriguez Stellar frame from a junk shop that did cleanouts. After looking at the Stolen Bike Registry, I found where it was stolen 4yrs earlier, PO had it locked to a rack inside an unlocked garage. I contacted the PO and she gave me the blessing to build it up for my wife as she had long since replaced it.
Finally I bought a pro-level bmx bike at the flea market. Couldn't find any record of it being hot, but was a Fit made by S&M with nothing but high end parts. It disappeared from my garage during the multiple break-ins of '21.
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Old 01-27-23, 12:20 PM
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Yes, and it was a pretty painful experience. Took the bus down from Portland to Salem to purchase a Rivendell Sam Hillborne for $325. As I was heading home some guy proceeds to pull the bike off the front rack of the bus. I head out to confront the guy, only to find that the guy is the bike's owner's friend. Had photos of the bike and serial number to boot, proving ownership. I was pretty gutted after that. I probably should have known it was stolen, especially at such a good price.
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Old 01-27-23, 12:28 PM
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Never bought a stolen bike to my knowledge, but did have an interesting encounter where I was accused of selling one.

A fellow contacted me and made an appointment to see a Trek bike I'm selling on the same day. When he shows up, turns out it's not a member of the general public, but rather a police detective with a uniformed officer in tow. Says he thinks the bike I'm selling is stolen and is here to investigate.

Bike in question is a Trek 4300 yellow and black MTB. Detective says he believes this to be a stolen bike of someone who complained online that their 4300 was stolen from their youngster, saw mine online and then called police.

I ask how old the youngster is. Fourteen, they tell me. I ask them, is he a giant? The 4300 I have is a 21" frame, so unless the kid is really tall for his age, not even close to his size. They figure out that the bike I have is not the youngster's stolen bike, apologize and go on their merry way.

This encounter really made me wonder. Apparently there was no vetting by anyone other than me about what size bike was originally stolen, and I put frame size and suggested height range in all my listings, so it's not a mystery. Could have saved a lot of time and effort otherwise.
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Old 01-27-23, 12:52 PM
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Maybe - do police auctions count?
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Old 01-27-23, 01:03 PM
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I recovered a stolen bike many years ago. No serial number visible, but bottom bracket had fresh paint and what looked like putty. Scraped it off, found the serial number and checked it. Sure enough it was reported stolen. It was returned to the owner. Don't recall what brand, it was nearly 40 years ago.
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Old 01-27-23, 02:42 PM
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I haven't knowingly bought a stolen bike, but it would actually surprise me to know with certainty that I never have. I try to look for red flags and search for stolen bike reports before I buy any used bike, and I do a serial number search when I get home, but so far I've found nothing.

Bike shop stickers from out of the area worry me. I once bought an old Rock Hopper from a guy in Hillsboro, Oregon that had registration stickers from Honolulu. I thought that was weird, but I guess it's more likely that someone would bring a bike with them when they moved here from Hawaii than it is that thieves would ship a bike they'd only be able to sell for $100. Another time, I bought a bike from another member of this forum who shipped it to me from North Carolina. When it got here, I saw that it had a shop sticker from a place in Oregon. I guess vintage bikes travel quite a bit.
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Old 01-27-23, 02:45 PM
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Not to my knowledge, had 4 stolen back when I was much younger and more foolish.
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Old 01-27-23, 02:54 PM
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Someone bought a bike that was stolen from me. I'd search for it on Craigslist from time to time, found it listed 3 years later. My LBS was able to pull up the serial number on me. Guy was miffed and thought I was conning him, somehow. Ultimately gave the guy about half his selling price for his effort, because I felt bad for him, and walked away with the bike - my 2006 Bianchi Volpe. We both walked away feeling like we got shafted, which means it was a good compromise.
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Old 01-27-23, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I haven't knowingly bought a stolen bike, but it would actually surprise me to know with certainty that I never have. I try to look for red flags and search for stolen bike reports before I buy any used bike, and I do a serial number search when I get home, but so far I've found nothing.

Bike shop stickers from out of the area worry me. I once bought an old Rock Hopper from a guy in Hillsboro, Oregon that had registration stickers from Honolulu. I thought that was weird, but I guess it's more likely that someone would bring a bike with them when they moved here from Hawaii than it is that thieves would ship a bike they'd only be able to sell for $100. Another time, I bought a bike from another member of this forum who shipped it to me from North Carolina. When it got here, I saw that it had a shop sticker from a place in Oregon. I guess vintage bikes travel quite a bit.
Yep, many bikes are well traveled by nature I believe, kinda like finding a Strawberry in New Orleans.....

Can't imagine moving across town with my hoard, let alone Hawaii, which I don't ever plan to revisit.

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Old 01-27-23, 04:37 PM
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I have only used dealerships.
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Old 01-27-23, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
kinda like finding a Strawberry in New Orleans.....
Are you suggesting that strawberries migrate?
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Old 01-27-23, 05:48 PM
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Thanks everbody,
this thread promped me to register my Holdsworth on BikeRegister.com (after owning it for 15 months).
Now if it gets nicked they are going to have to erase the frame number (is that good ?)
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Old 01-28-23, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Are you suggesting that strawberries migrate?
Maybe, all I know is I'm glad this one is home with me.

Going to have to decide what to do with it, rides fantastic despite being waaay at the bottom of my size range.
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Old 01-28-23, 01:14 AM
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Don’t know, but not going to look into it either.
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Old 01-28-23, 08:17 AM
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I bought my '70 Peugeot mixte for very cheap several years ago. The lady was sort of cagey about it...older...looked from the rest of her vehicle like a hoarder. I asked her if she knew the history of the bike (hoping she was perhaps the original owner or something), but she just said something like, "it was in the big bike race," whatever that meant (I assumed she was trying to gaslight me, because of the Record du Monde decal on all Peugeots at the time).

I presumed she bought it in some sort of junk lot (like an estate sale or a storage locker auction), but why wouldn't she just say that, if it was a legitimate buy?

In any event, the tires were rotted and it was pretty clear it wasn't someone's current ride so, even if it was stolen at some point, it was probably picked off a pile behind someone's shed or something.
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Old 01-28-23, 08:28 AM
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I would imagine that any bike we buy used that is vintage might be someoneís that was stolen at some point then bought legitimately 2 or 3 times before it gets into our hands.

I am fully prepared to return any bike that was stolen. But even so, many of us mix and match parts and frames so it would be difficult to return it in its original state when it was thefted...
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Old 01-28-23, 08:45 AM
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As teens we bought and swapped beater bikes for $10 or $20. Often rattle can repaints. Surely stolen at some point, but not by the friend you bought it from. It was the way of the world and we didn't think too much about it.

But after I graduated to my Raleigh Record 10 speed I was done with beaters.
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Old 01-28-23, 09:05 AM
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Not stolen, but I bought a bike from a police auction once. Turned out it was supposed to be evidence in a collision and a personal injury lawsuit and the cops should not have sold it. Lawyer tracked me down and traded me a new one for it. Actual story is a lot more complicated but that's the good part.
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Old 01-28-23, 12:15 PM
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Bought a box of parts with a frame once, 60 years old. Found a note stuffed in the handlebar, I'll clean up the language a bit.

"Dear Bike Thief: You Suck!" Note looked as old as the bike. No name on it, so I could not connect with whoever wrote the note.
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